Where is the best place to travel in 2013? According to Lonely Planet, the answer lies in a tiny island in Southeast Asia: Sri Lanka. With more than two millennia of cultural history, world-class beaches, incredible food and wilderness adventures galore, Sri Lanka offers a wealth of riches for any traveller. Civil conflict battered the island in years past, and 2004’s tsunami devastated its shores, but now peace prevails and tourism is making a strong comeback – at affordable prices. Now’s the time to go, before the crowds take notice. Here are some can’t-miss highlights, plus details on staying connected while away.
History Buffs, Take Note
Once a key stop along ancient trade routes, the island has seen the rise and fall of kingdoms that make Game of Thrones seem tame. Add to this the blossoming of religions and the arrival and departure of European colonists, each leaving a mark, and you’ve got quite a storied past.
The country features several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the ancient city of Polonnaruwa and the sacred city of Kandy. The latter is the home of the Temple of the Tooth Relic, otherwise known as the sacred tooth of Buddha. CONNECT: While exploring Sri Lanka, it’s simple to stay in touch with family and friends back home. Rogers’ Talk & Text Travel Packs include affordable options for Asia (which covers Sri Lanka), starting at just $50 for 15 minutes of talk time and 100 sent texts. If you go over your alloted minutes and texts, you’ll get low rates for the entire month until your Pack expires. For more info, visit rogers.com/roaming.
Sri Lanka boasts a stunning array of wildlife. Although it’s small, the country has 10 national parks and seven bird sanctuaries, and is home to more than 40 endangered species, making it a less costly way for tourists to experience safari-style sights than in much of Africa or Asia.
Eco-adventures abound: go on a safari and find species such as the Sri Lankan elephant and Sri Lankan leopard in their natural habitat, join an excursion to see whales and dolphins at play, or go camping in the country’s lush jungles. No need to pack a tent – tour companies provide all the supplies you’ll need for your overnight adventure. CONNECT: While abroad, don’t stress about the cost of staying connected. It’s easy to purchase affordable roaming solutions for mobile devices. Buy in advance and check it off your to-do list. Text TRAVEL to 7626 and click the link that you receive (link is free of charge). Or visit rogers.com/roam from your mobile device (free anywhere in the world). For more information, visit rogers.com/roaming.
Get Your Game On
Do you thrive on adrenalin? Then you’ll love this island. Overflowing with sports, including sailing, surfing, windsurfing, waterskiing, snorkelling and scuba diving, Sri Lanka is home to numerous hotspots, but without the usual crowds. Make sure you take in the beautiful Negombo region on the west coast; canoe or kayak on Sri Lanka’s many rivers and lagoons; and be sure to hit the rapids at the Kelani Ganga.
Need to dry off? Take a break from the waves and go hiking, rock climbing, cave trekking and mountain biking. The sky’s no limit, either: take flight with a hot-air balloon ride. In Sri Lanka, you’ll definitely run out of vacation time before you run out of things to do. CONNECT: Be sure to send pictures home while you’re away. Why not? It’s inexpensive to email or send text-message pics with Roaming Data Passes from Rogers. Concerned about using more data than you signed up for? You’ll receive text-message usage notifications while you use your Roaming Data Pass and will be hard stopped once your Pass expires, so you never incur overage fees.
Kick Back – You’re On Vacay
It’s not all go-go-go in Sri Lanka. If sunning and generally taking it easy are more your bag, there’s no better place to do it than while enjoying breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean along Sri Lanka’s 1,300 kilometres of warm, white-sand beaches. Popular destinations include Trincomalee on the northeast coast; Arugam Bay in the southeast (surfing season starts in April); and reef-protected Unawatuna on the southern edge.
Had enough sun? Head indoors and find your bliss with Ayurveda-based pampering at one of the country’s many spas. Ayurveda is an ancient healing method that includes treatment with herbs, roots and massage therapy to boost well-being. Yes, please. CONNECT: Once you’ve booked your trip, text ALERT to 4766 to sign up for a travel reminder text alert. Before you leave, you’ll receive a text message reminding you to purchase a Roaming Data Pass or Travel Pack for affordable internet, calling and texting. How handy is that?
Sri Lanka At A Glance:
Population (2012): 21.5 million
Currency: Sri Lankan rupees (LKR)
Languages: Sinhala and Tamil
Requirements: Visitors need a visa: apply at eta.gov.lk/slvisa
TIP: Make sure to close apps that you’re not using. Most apps use data, and some run in the background, even when you aren’t actively using them.